Do I need car insurance?

4 minute read

Blue car with damaged bonnet crashed into back of black car

Some types of insurance are optional and some are mandatory. Car insurance falls into the latter group and has been a legal requirement in the UK since the Road Traffic Act was passed in 1930. This means that you must have a minimum of third party insurance if you own a car, even if the vehicle is permanently parked on your driveway or in your garage. It’s a requirement because, at a minimum, it covers injuries and property damage that you may cause to other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers.

So what are the consequences of owning a car that doesn’t even have a minimum of third party insurance? Read on to find out.


What happens if I don’t have car insurance?

If you don’t have car insurance and the police discover this, you could end up with points on your licence and a fine. However, if you have an accident while driving uninsured, the consequences could be even more serious.

The police can very easily see whether your vehicle is insured or not using automatic number plate recognition cameras. These cameras can scan your number plate and, if your vehicle is insured, the software will be able to find its details in the Motor Insurance Database (MID). If your vehicle is not insured, the software won’t locate it in the MID and will therefore flag to the police that it’s uninsured. Using your number plate, they can find your address and send out an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) to your home. If you believe this to be a mistake, you should dig out your insurance policy and phone the provider to ensure that your vehicle is listed in the MID.


What’s the penalty for driving uninsured?

If you’re caught without insurance, you could be issued with a fine of up to £300 and receive up to six points on your licence. These points would remain on your record for at least four years and you would need to alert an insurance company to the points for the first 12 months. You may find that this increases your premium. You will also be made to exit the car and it may be towed, depending on the location.

If you’re caught without insurance and you were doing something else illegal, such as driving with no seatbelt, talking on the phone, speeding, or driving with no MOT, the penalty could be even higher and you may end up disqualified from driving temporarily. If you do end up disqualified for more than 56 days, you need to apply for a new licence and may even need to retake your test.

Sometimes, a car insurance policy can expire without you realising it. Unfortunately, even if you thought you were insured, you’re still at fault as it’s your responsibility to make sure that a car insurance policy is active and valid. It may be possible to appeal the fine and the points, but there’s still no guarantee that you’ll be let off with no consequences.

There are some exceptions that mean you don’t need car insurance, however, these are few and far between. If you’re unsure whether you do or don’t need it, it’s always best to get it anyway.

Reasons for not needing car insurance include having a valid Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), owning a car that hasn’t been on a public road since before 1st February 1998, having a car scrapped, stolen or exported (as long as you have provided evidence of this) or owning a car that is between dealers.

A vehicle can be declared as SORN through the government website. Once you do this, you could receive a tax refund for any months you won’t be using the vehicle. Once a car is recognised as SORN, you cannot use the vehicle on the road until you tax and insure it again, however it can be parked on a driveway or in a garage. It cannot be parked on a public road.

If your vehicle hasn’t been driven since before 1st February 1998, you do not need to declare it as SORN and you don’t need insurance, however, you cannot drive it.

As previously mentioned, accidentally driving without insurance, even if you believed your insurance policy to be active, is still illegal and you would be expected to pay the fine and accept the points. However, occasionally you can appeal the decision. This can only be done in very special circumstances and appealing doesn’t necessarily mean you will win.

These circumstances include if an insurance provider has cancelled a policy without alerting you, if you don’t have a policy because of a fault of the provider and if the provider said you could drive the vehicle legally when this wasn’t the case. Each of these things would need to be proved using evidence, such as emails, and it may take a long time for the appeal to be processed.